Had to make a tough decision and feeling bad about it

Discussion in 'General Education' started by HistoryVA, May 6, 2014.

  1. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    UPDATED!!-----Had to make a tough decision and feeling bad about it

    So I am the "drama coach" at my high school. My school doesn't offer any Drama classes. I'm just a history teacher with a slight background in theatre, so when the kids said they wanted to start a drama club, I agreed to do so.

    The students decided they wanted to do a "real play" to be performed at night. The school hasn't had anything like this in probably a decade. We decided to do a Night of One Acts, held auditions, cast the show and started rehearsing. It's been a nightmare since the beginning. At least half of the students involved have no sense of commitment. At least 1/3 of the cast dropped out and had to be replaced, rehearsals are skipped without a second thought, no one was learning their lines, it's just sucked, to be honest.

    Now, we're less than 2 weeks out (opening on Thursday the 14th) and of the 4 plays, there was one that just had NO hope. Only 2 of the kids had learned their lines (3 MONTHS of rehearsal). The rest of the kids were so frustrated that these students were going to make them look bad and I'm frustrated that I've dedicated 6-10 hours a week for the last 3 months to students who clearly don't care.

    So, today, after discussing it with the core group of drama students, we decided to cut that play. It's not happening. The other 3 will go on and I'm trying to find SOMETHING for the kids who actually cared to perform. The thing is, though, these same kids who didn't learn their lines and give me attitude about coming to practice were extremely upset about the decision. And I get it. They feel like they put in this time for nothing. But I feel like if they really wanted to do it, they'd have followed through. It just sucks because something that was supposed to be fun has turned into well.. drama!

    On one hand, I feel like this is a natural consequence. If a sports team screwed around during regular season, they wouldn't make the championship. In drama, there's ONLY the "championship." On the other hand, I certainly never wanted to put in tons of extra time just to break some students' hearts.... but no one wanted our first performance to be dead air onstage because no one knew their lines.

    Was I wrong to cancel it? Should I have let them do it knowing that they would fail? Even the kids who DID know their parts were fine with it being chopped because they wouldn't look bad. It's the ones who didn't follow through that are upset. Am I overreacting just because it's the first time I've had to "hurt" students? Ugh, I just regret ever agreeing to start this club.
     
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    That was a tough call, but I really think you did the right thing. Can those three students do monologues? That might be really cool in between the scenes, and it would give the crew time to change the props.
     
  4. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    No, you weren't wrong to cancel it. Especially since it is a club instead of a class. Sucks though :(
     
  5. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    I give my kids 2-3 weeks to learn lines. I would have cut it much sooner.

    But, yes, you did the right thing.
     
  6. PrincessDaisy

    PrincessDaisy Rookie

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    You were right. You're teaching these kids a real life lesson. I would have told them paid acting jobs get recast all the time if the actor/actress can't commit to their job and do a good a job. Also, even if this is not a profession they want to pursue, they can't take any job and act that way. They will get fired. High school is a good time to learn this.
     
  7. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    You did the right thing. I like cat's idea of monologues bwtween the plays for those that actually put forth the effort.
     
  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    You made the right decision. The drama club and the play was for the students, not for you. So, although you do care about the play and the outcome, you're not supposed to care more than the students. In other words, you're not the one that should stress out and make changes just so something good can come out of it and the students could care less.
    Also, you don't want to put out a product that is horrible, because you will look bad. You want a play, that might be not the best, but does show a high quality, the student's skills and effort and your leadership skills.
     
  9. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I personally would have had a "drop dead date," where students knew that if their lines weren't memorized by then, they wouldn't be participating. For a one act play, two or three WEEKS is a reasonable amount of time, let alone three MONTHS.
     
  10. underthesun

    underthesun Rookie

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    :yeahthat:
     
  11. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Thanks for the input! I guess I've been struggling to find that line of toughness when it comes to a club. I was afraid if I was too tough, kids would quit, leaving others in a lurch, but being too soft led to this nightmare. I just don't know how to get kids to follow through with these commitments! They're excited to audition and fine for the first couple of practices and then they start fading away. It's so frustrating for the kids who follow through.

    Hopefully the ones that are really angry will chill by the time they have my actual class on Thursday!
     
  12. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I have done plays with my students, and I have learned that without their cooperation and enthusiasm, it just can't happen. I think it is great that you offer this opportunity to your students. Drama is great in so many ways for students.

    I do agree with your decision. Sometimes, you have to cancel a play if a large amount of students aren't going to do their part. A play is too big for a teacher to carry alone.
     
  13. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    May 6, 2014

    I was in a similar situation where we practiced all year for an academic competition. The kids were not studying like they should, also would skip practices with no notice/explanation. I really debated whether or not to take them to the competition. I have been doing this for years and never had that lack of interest.

    I went the other way and decided to continue, mostly because I was afraid of parent reactions. Halfway through the competition several of them commented that they wished they wouldn't have come. So long story short, I think you probably made the right choice. They learned their lesson without making everyone, including themselves look bad in the process.
     
  14. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I had a similar experience this year for a science competition that was supposed to be done in teams. A lot of kids signed up. One team consistently came to meetings, but half of the kids in that team didn't take it seriously.

    I did the same thing. We didn't submit our projects because they weren't ready. I was having to do too much of the work, and I wasn't into it anymore. I began just kicking out kids who weren't taking it seriously.
     
  15. brightstart123

    brightstart123 Rookie

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    May 7, 2014

    You did the right thing. And if you are feeling that you have done wrong and that makes those kids upset, then think about it as a punishment for kids for not behaving and memorizing the lines of the play.
     
  16. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    I give my elementary students probably only about 2 weeks to memorize their lines (although they do have their script before we start blocking and some start memorizing early). I am very tough on them. I almost recast one student and told her she would lose her part if she didn't have her lines memorized by the next rehearsal. She memorized them!

    I think my kids like how tough I am on them because they know they'll be performing for the whole school. They don't want to embarrass themselves!
     
  17. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Think of it this way-if you assigned a history project, you would expect it done on the due date right? If it wasn't, you wouldn't feel bad giving an appropriate grade.

    Same applies here. They had an assignment, and didn't do it. So they earned a cancellation.

    Four one-act plays is ambitious for a beginning club-perhaps the next project could scale back a bit.
     
  18. teach1

    teach1 Companion

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    I think you definitely made the right decision. Good lesson for the kids to learn.
     
  19. ATwainedTeacher

    ATwainedTeacher Rookie

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    You definitely made the right decision. I was in theatre all through high school, but I am by no means theatre teacher material. Anyway, I did the Virginia one-act play competition last year (something you might want to consider for next year), and I had a difficult time getting students to commit. Luckily, we were doing an ensemble type play with students playing multiple roles already, so when the difficult decision came, I just had to drop some students from their parts. If you're not coming to practice and you don't know your lines, what else can be done? It's not fair to the other students that their hard work is made to look poorly done by students who are unprepared. Anyway, I've found everyone wants to be in a play until they figure out how hard the work is.

    I like the idea of giving the two students who stuck with it short monologues. That would be a nice way to break up the plays, and there's a ton of free monologues online you could use.
     
  20. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I wouldn't phrase it as a "punishment". Instead, I would explain it is a consequence of their own decisions and actions (or lack thereof).

    I agree with everyone else that the OP made the right decision. I participated in a few plays in high school and the teacher in charge of the play made it very clear up front that any students who did not learn their lines on time and come to each practice would had a very good chance of being cut from the play altogether and replaced by someone else.

    Learning that lack of commitment and discipline will often have negative consequences is a critical lesson all kids need to learn early in life.
     
  21. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    That's actually how this whole mess got started! :D We compete in the competition every year and it's fine, but it's always a small show with kids I know. This was the first year that they wanted to expand with new people and put on a "real" show.

    On the upside, I found a 3 minute Abbott and Costello skit that I think will be great for these 2 kids. Our evening will end up on the shorter side, but I think it'll be ok in the end.
     
  22. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Sounds like a good solution and, again, you made the right decision regarding the play.

    If the students who were not giving the effort required get upset, they can learn to deal with the consequences that come with their actions.

    My previous full time assignment was at a school where the children (in general) were extremely UN-motivated to give any effort, much less actually try to learn the material. When one student complained about his low grade, I told him "You haven't done any work this grading period and your grade reflects that".

    To be honest, I thought I was exaggerating somewhat. I mean, I've never had any student that literally did NONE of the work assigned. Then I took a look at the online grades and realized I was right - he had not turned in a SINGLE ASSIGNMENT for the entire grading period. :eek:hmy:

    He played on the JV football team, so I arranged a meeting with the coach to see if he had any suggestions on how to motivate this student in particular and all of them in general. He just shook his head and said "I have the very same problem. Less than half my players actually attend practice on a regular basis, even though this is something they supposedly WANT to do. But when it comes time for the game, they ALL want to be starters and play the whole game. They think being on the football team means they just show up for the game and are supposed to get to play."

    The kids have to learn that commitment, discipline and following-through on a promise are essential qualities needed to succeed as they progress through life.
     
  23. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I LOVE those classic scripts, and I'm sure those kids will have a blast with the language. Great job!
     
  24. ATwainedTeacher

    ATwainedTeacher Rookie

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    Aww, well, it's a neat idea for a longer performance! I'm sure the show will be fine. And an Abbott and Costello skit? :clap:
     
  25. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Hopefully this experience, tough as it is for everyone involved, will lead to a better drama club. You said this school hasn't had one for many years. Perhaps the students thought it wasn't a serious thing. You did the right thing by cutting the play and consulting with the core group of student actors. For one, your show will go on and be successful. Secondly, it shows that your are serious about your expectations. It also shows you support and honor hard work.:2up: I wonder if there was no drama club for so long because it wasn't taken seriously by some causing the more dedicated ones to quit in frustration. If this sort of behavior happened at a job, the offenders would be fired. This makes the same point without hurting their ability to support themselves and their families. Hopefully it will be a wake-up call.

    I like the Abbot and Costello skit idea. There are so many great classic skits out there! I had a couple of 5th grade girls learn "Who's one First" and perform it for the class all on their own! I had to explain the premise to the class a little, but they loved it.
     
  26. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    SO! Opening Night was tonight and I am OVER the MOON! The kids did so wonderfully awesome!

    Cutting that play was the BEST decision! Thank you everyone for talking me off that ledge! :D The 2 boys killed the Abbott and Costello routine and 2 of the students from the cut play ended up working backstage for us. The students who are still mad are the same ones who had bad attitudes before, so whatever. :D

    We only had about 40 people in the audience, but it's a good start for a school that hasn't had a play in 10 years!
     
  27. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Congratulations, HistoryVA!
     
  28. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    WOOT! Hope you have the ability to give the cast and crew a small wrap party. You have all earned one.
     
  29. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    Yay!
     
  30. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Awesome, History!! Sounds like something to build on!
     
  31. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Congrats! So glad things turned out well for you.
     
  32. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I'm glad it went well.
     

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